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Flight Performance - Level 3

Airplane Performance-Section 6


Taxiing an airplane is an elementary operation, the first thing a student pilot is taught. Nevertheless, no pilot should become complacent about the procedure. It is always necessary to pay close attention to the control of the airplane. Taxi slowly enough that the airplane will stop instantly when the brakes are applied, slowly enough that it will stop on its own when the throttle is closed. Always check the brakes before moving more than a few meters. Keep a sharp lookout outside of the cockpit and have someone on the ground guide you through any area where the clearance seems marginal. Avoid taxiing too closely behind large turbine powered airplanes. Be very careful taxiing in conditions of high winds and gusts.


At an uncontrolled airport at which a mandatory frequency(MF) has been designated, always follow the procedures for reporting your intentions to the FSS or CARS operating the MF.   If an aerodrome or airport traffic frequency (ATF) has been designated, report your intentions to the operator of the ATF or broadcast your intentions blind.

Always taxi downwind to the extreme end of the field or runway to take off. In that way, the full length of the runway is available for the take-off run if it is needed. This practice is a good habit to cultivate. One day, in a short field on a hot day, you will be glad to have every foot of the runway to use. In a seaplane, it is wise to allow at least twice the distance that is really required for the take-off run.

Make a final check of the instruments and everything in the cockpit again.

Make a conscientious visual check of the approach path to the runway to see that no airplanes are approaching to land. Report your departure intentions on the MF or ATF.

Trim the stabilizer properly for take-off and turn and take off into the wind.


With Radio

If your airplane is radio equipped, taxi instructions will be given to you verbally by the tower. If you have been authorized to taxi to the runway in use, taxi to the indicated holding position on the taxi strip. If there is no indicated holding position marked, taxi to a position approximately 200 feet from the boundary of the runway in use to do your engine run-up and cockpit check. (You may taxi across non-active runways without further authorization from the tower to reach the runway in use, unless otherwise instructed). Turn at an angle to the taxi strip to do your engine run-up in case there may be another airplane behind you. When you have made your cockpit check, request a take-off clearance from the tower.

If requesting take-off clearance from an intersection, it is your responsibility as pilot to ensure that the portion of runway available to you is sufficient for the requirements of your airplane. The tower controller bases his authorization on the existing traffic, noise abatement rules, etc., and not on the capabilities of your airplane.

If you have approached a runway at an intersection, but wish to back track on that runway to achieve enough runway length for take-off, you must indicate your intentions to the tower and obtain a clearance for the maneuver prior to entering the runway.

Sometimes, to expedite the movement of traffic, the controller in giving take-off clearance includes the word "immediate". On acceptance of the clearance, you must taxi onto the runway and take off in a continuous movement. If, however, in your opinion, this action would affect your operation, you should refuse the clearance and request a static take-off (i.e., a full stop in position prior to starting the take-off roll). There is documented evidence that the loss of an engine on take-off has been caused by an air gap in the fuel system occasioned by the centrifugal force of the tight turn onto the runway leaving the fuel tank line momentarily exposed.

Always turn left after take-off, unless otherwise authorized by the tower.


Be sure, before beginning your take-off run that you have given full consideration to the effect on your take-off of the following factors: gross weight and centre of gravity, density altitude, wind direction and velocity, runway conditions, ground effect, and emergency procedures in the event of engine failure.

CLICK HERE for a more detailed and advanced review of Take-off and Landing performance of airplanes on unsloped and sloping runways.


1. Note the time of take-off in the journey log. Conform to the traffic circuit procedures for departing the circuit. When well clear of the circuit traffic, turn on to the desired heading. Climb to the selected altitude, adjusting the power and the mixture in accordance with the manufacturer's operating instructions. During the climb, check the instruments regularly. On reaching the desired altitude, level off and adjust the power and mixture as necessary.

2. Check distance, time and groundspeed by direct reckoning navigation. Make course corrections and revise your estimated time of arrival (ETA) as necessary. Keep a log of the progress of the flight and record the time over the various checkpoints.

3. Fly straight and level when checking headings on the magnetic compass. Reset the heading indicator frequently.

4. Avoid thunderstorms. Take appropriate action if this is unavoidable. Avoid turbulent air if possible. If unavoidable, slow the airplane to the recommended maneuvering speed. Do not get stranded over a cloud layer. Avoid the wake of large airplanes.

5. Check the weather, as you go, by radio or observation. Listen for the weather reports from stations enroute. Maintain a continuous listening watch for enroute advisories and SIGMETS. Flight information service does provide information regarding unfavorable weather developing along your route, thunderstorms, icing, unserviceability of radio aids, airports or other hazards to safety, providing you contact an air traffic control (ATC) unit prior to take-off or enroute.

6. Apply carburetor heat, windscreen defroster, wing de-icers when necessary.

7. Observe air traffic rules, especially those with ceiling and distance from cloud, visibility, cruising altitudes both on and off airways, weather minima in control zones and control areas.

8. Keep a constant lookout for other aircraft.

9. Keep an accurate check on fuel consumption, constantly.

10. Observe wind and weather changes.

11. Report to communications stations enroute any unusual weather conditions encountered, or observed, as an aid to other pilots. Reports so transmitted by pilots enroute are referred to as PIREPS (pilot reports).

12. Fly around bad weather if possible. If this is impracticable, turn back - repeat - turn back.

13. Check your flight and engine instruments frequently. Be sure you understand altimeter setting and altimeter errors thoroughly. Compute true airspeed based on indicated airspeed, outside air temperature, and pressure altitude.

14. Report time over intermediate stations enroute. This is good practice if you intend to acquire an instrument rating later on, and it provides the search and rescue service with a clue as to your whereabouts if you fail to arrive at your destination.

15. If the flight is being conducted at a high altitude, calculate the point at which to begin a gradual descent that will result in arrival at the destination airport at approximately circuit height. A gradual descent avoids rapid power off let downs that contribute to carburetor icing. During such a gradual descent, the airplane is able to pick up a bit of airspeed and consequently a better groundspeed which in turn gives a better enroute time.

The material for this section is reproduced from the publication, FROM THE GROUND UP, with the permission of its copyright owner, Aviation Publishers Co. Ltd. No further reproduction is authorized, in any print, electronic or other form of media, without the prior consent of the publisher at http://www.aviationpublishers.com . Any questions regarding this portion of the website should be directed to Dr. Claudius Carnegie. Questions regarding the publication, FROM THE GROUND UP, should be directed to the publisher at info@aviationpublishers.com.

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Updated: May 03, 2008